A Beginner’s Guide to Running with Wo(man)’s Best Friend
About 5 years ago, the University of Michigan published research that showed how dog-owners at 34% more likely to get an optimal amount of physical exercise a week (150 minutes total). These trend is unsurprising because most dog-owners, especially in more urban or suburban places, spend time walking their dog every day. Our canine companions are also our best workout partners! Talking a stroll with our furry friends is good exercise, but what are some other ways that we can break a sweat while spending quality time with our dogs?
The next logical step from walking is… running! Running comes natural to most dog breeds so it’s a great way for you both to get some exercise. You can strengthen the owner/dog bond by going on jogs together.
Before you get started though, consider your dog’s health and breed. Does your dog have any preexisting health issues? Hip troubles? Achy joints? Just like people, these bodily pains can turn an enjoyable jog into a real drag, or even very dangerous to their health. Check in with your vet if you are worried about if your dog is healthy enough for a running regimen.
Consider the Breed
Your first thought may be that the smaller breeds aren’t fit for runs, but you’d be wrong! In fact, smaller breeds often have more energy than the longer breeds. Something to consider though is the pace. Dogs with short legs may not be able to keep up a pace that you are looking for. Conversely, longer-legged breeds are more susceptible to hip dysplasia which can lead to arthritis. Short nosed breeds such as pugs, bulldogs, and chihuahuas, have a harder time taking in air, so longer runs may be out of the cards. For these flat-faced cuties, keep your run under 5 miles or so.
Watch the Weather
Another thing to be aware of is the heat and humidity. You probably know that dog’s bodies don’t regulate heat the same way we do. They can’t sweat, so overheating is a real concern, especially for long-haired breeds. The other things to pay attention too are very similar to humans. Start slow — just like how a more sedentary person can’t jump up and run a 5k, the same is true for dogs. Warming up is also important. Trails are much easier for dog’s paws than concrete.
Beside those things to think about, running with your dog is easy and lots of fun. Once the dog learns the habit and routine, her wagging tail and excited energy at the sight of your running shoes can feed your energy level. Motivator, workout partner, and best friend all rolled into one! What could be better?